Gordon Souter, born in Alberta and educated in British Columbia, committed himself to genetic improvement in the Canadian cattle industry. His early 4-H activity demonstrated his interest in livestock. His skills, and vision in all aspects of genetic improvement, permitted him to become a major innovator in multiple facets of the cattle breeding industry over a 40-year career. He refined genetic evaluation methods, developed sire proving programs, introduced genetic mating programs and improved cow identification and registration.
Starting as a technician at British Columbia Artificial Insemination Centre, Gordon Souter became an expert sire analyst for dairy and beef. Then as assistant manager, he led the centre to become the first in Canada to offer monetary incentives to producers to progeny test young dairy sires and he was instrumental in promoting the importation of well-known sires of several beef breeds to North America.
A Herd Analysis Service, introduced under Gordon’s tenure as manager of BCAI, became the first mating program in Canada using official proofs on bulls to improve faults in cows. An improved, computerized version evolved into the current ‘G-Mate’ program. Under Mr. Souter’s management, funding was provided by the BCAI Centre for research on genetic evaluation for protein at the University of British Columbia. This work gave a base for Protein Proofs which later were adopted by the Canadian Milk Recording Board as part of the Official Proofs.
As general manager of the BCIA Centre, Mr. Souter provided an embryo transfer service to clients. He played a central role in strengthening Semex Canada into a cohesive, cooperative group of producer-owned companies. Gordon was a key figure in the growth the Semex Alliance and became their sire analyst for western Canada and the USA. Gordon also was a board member of Semex UK, Semex Deutschland and Semex Holland.
Gordon Souter also was a founding director of British Columbia Dairy Herd Improvement Services.
As an active member of a ‘Futures’ group, Mr. Souter helped formulate the establishment of the Canadian Dairy Network and played a pivotal role in establishing the private, industry-funded, genetic evaluation centre for dairy cattle in Canada. The organization is highly regarded internationally for publication of technically advanced, timely and accurate genetic evaluations on dairy bulls, and cows for production, conformation, health and other traits.
In recognition of service to agriculture, Gordon and his spouse, Barbara, were presented with the Ralph J. Barichello Memorial Trophy by the Canadian Jersey Cattle Club. Gordon has been recipient of the CAAB Award of Merit, the BC Holstein Breeders Award, Agriculturist of the Year Award (BC Institute of Agrologists), Certificate of Recognition from BC Holstein Breeders Association and other community awards.